“I can’t wait to be an adult,” said every child or adolescent at some point in their life. Growing up, my friends and I looked forward to being 18 years old—that meant that I would be a full-blown adult and I could do anything and everything I wanted to do. Boy, was I wrong! I don’t know about you, but I was still dependent on my parents in every aspect of my life and somewhat naive.
Everyone around me seemed to obsess over the idea of becoming an adult, because that equated to pure freedom and endless opportunities. Although that may be true, no one ever prepared me for the realities of being an adult and all of the responsibilities and internal battles I’d face.
Although I am grateful for all of the lessons I have learned, through making mistakes or by just taking the time to research, I can’t help but to think that it would have been helpful to be prepped about these five things.
1. Your first job may not be your dream job
When I first graduated from graduate school and got my first “big girl job,” I automatically thought that this was it: I could finally start living carefree. But once I started to find myself working long hours, with a huge caseload, low wages, and the bills that officially started rolling in, that previous thought of “I will be making the big bucks at my dream job” dissipated rapidly.
I had always heard everyone saying “go to college” as the way to financial freedom, but I found myself fresh out of college, working at a low-paying stressful job, in tens of thousands of dollars in debt from student loans. That alone did a number on my psyche.
I realized that there is a huge push to go to college, but hardly anyone ever discussed some of the challenges that could occur when entering the real world and how sometimes it takes years of experience and dedication to land that dream job. Whether it takes six months or six years, keep your goal in sight. Eventually it will come to fruition through hard work, connections, and dedication.
2. The importance of making good financial decisions
Once again, I had some unrealistic thoughts about adulting, especially in regard to managing money. The importance of budgeting became an essential factor in becoming more financially stable. I utilize apps that track my spending and upcoming bills, mapping out how much money I can devote to free spending.
Additionally, I learned how building good credit is very important, because without good credit, it’s a struggle to get some of the things you want with low interest rates, such as a car, home, etc.
Another big financial aspect that I wish I would have known about earlier is the significance of investing, whether that means setting up an IRA Roth account, investing in stocks and bonds, or even simply purchasing real estate. Take time to equip yourself with knowledge about ways to increase your financial stability.
3. The importance of maintaining good health
Life can be stressful and overwhelming at times, particularly during the lovely adulting phase. The responsibilities of having to get things done can lead to burnout and possibly the neglect of your health.
Stay on top of scheduling yearly doctor’s appointments. I used to fall into the trap of thinking that I did not need to go to the doctor because I was young and healthy. You may very well be healthy, but engaging in self-care and staying on top of appointments can help reduce any unforeseen health or medical issues that could be induced by stress.
4. The challenges of managing meaningful relationships
Nobody prepared me for the reality that maintaining friendships can be difficult as a young adult. I met so many friends during college, but once we graduated, some moved back home or went to grad school in other states while others got married and had children.
Not to mention that when you start working a full time job, it becomes a bit of a challenge to make time for yourself, let alone others. It’s important to try not to become so wrapped up in work and daily tasks that you begin to neglect communication with your loved ones. Maintaining these relationships can be beneficial to your emotional health, helping to keep you uplifted and supported during stressful times. Schedule some time every week to call a friend or family member to engage in meaningful communication.
5. The constant internal battle
To my surprise, I was never prepared for the constant struggle I’d have in my head in regards to the pressure to do better. As an adult, I developed a great deal of anxiety due to the fear of making mistakes or the idea of not having it “all together” by a certain age.
To be extremely honest, nobody has it “all together” at any age. As humans, there are always mistakes to be made and lessons to be learned. As long as your intentions are pure and you give your all, please sit back, pat yourself on the back, and give yourself credit.
Despite not having these five topics discussed in detail with me before I reached adulthood, I am grateful for the ups, downs, and curve balls that life throws my way. No matter the challenges faced, embrace this time of your life and live it to the fullest.